What’s the trick to creating quality content that sticks? And how can it be scaled for growth and momentum?
We’ve summarized the key content marketing trends from our State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report, where we surveyed 1,500 marketing experts and analyzed 500K articles.
Below we dive into eight (and one bonus) content marketing tips for you to consider implementing into your strategy for this year.
Trend #1: Focus on Creating Personalized, Humanized Content
The content marketers who will continue to stand out are those with the most intimate knowledge of their (niche) audience. They are the original thinkers, the creative writers, the experimenters, the people with the skills to captivate, educate, entertain, and inspire their audience.
In an increasingly noisy digital landscape, personalizing and humanizing your content continues to be a key driver for success in 2022.
With artificial intelligence (AI) on the rise, and the ever-growing presence of mediocre content published each and every day, readers look to authentic, unique content more and more.
How do you accomplish this? Experts cite that original research and finding your own voice are two drivers for creating thoughtful, inspiring content that resonates with your audience.
Go beyond the algorithm of what your competitors are doing. Commission surveys, conduct interviews with your customers, and define the face of your buyer persona to understand who you’re really wanting to reach.
Even if you are in a large, competitive space, carving out a niche where you can speak with unique insights is another way to stand out in the digital realm.
Sharing real-life stories or case studies with your audience can elevate your humanity in the eyes of your target audience. Unlike a search engine, your audience will immediately notice your thought leadership and could become loyal to your brand as a result.
When it comes to creating your content, defining the voice of your brand can be the difference between building trust and just sounding like another competitor in your space.
Trend #2: Keep Track of Your Audience’s Shifting Needs
Your audience and their needs have changed over the past two years. The key differences across businesses are how employees work, their lifestyles, and their use of devices and media consumption. This includes the use of voice-first devices like smartphones and voice assistants.
Heidi Cohen, Chief Marketing Officer at Actionable Marketing Guide
Nearly everything we read now mentions the pandemic. Though we might like to go a day without hearing about it, it’s forever changed how we work, how we interact, and how users behave online.
To that end, it’s still a part of our global dialogue, and your content marketing strategy needs to align with these shifting trends to match the sentiments and needs of your audience.
In 2022, try these content marketing tips that consider the effects of COVID-19:
- Run an audit of your COVID-19 content. If your audience is experiencing pandemic fatigue, it’s worthwhile to look back at your content and see if the tone and messaging are outdated. Replace and refine your content with new messaging to offer a fresh face to your company’s channels.
- Talk to your customers. Interviewing or surveying your customers will give you a snapshot of what’s important to them right now. Are they planning a return to the office soon? Are they looking up products or services to make remote work more comfortable? Staying in touch with your audience can reveal winning ideas for new content.
- Consider voice-to-text material. With more people working from home, smart home devices may be used more frequently to search for products and services. Extend the reach of your existing content to better match this channel.
Note that optimizing your content for voice search is somewhat different from traditional SEO.
Here's how: Focus on longer phrases, longtail keywords, and try to create content in a conversational tone that anticipates what your audience might be looking for.
For instance, on a mobile device, you might type “olive oil cake recipe.” At home, you might instead say “Hey Alexa, what’s an easy olive oil cake recipe I can make at home?”
Truth be told, these concepts should always be a part of your content marketing strategy. As the pandemic continues to evolve, adapting these best practices can help you achieve success beyond 2022.
Trend #3: Embrace Empathy, Research, and Storytelling
Look at factors such as their career, lifestyle, hobbies, interests as well as what makes them tick. You must also find out whether they’re the final decision-makers, and, if not, who is the final decision maker, and how much authority does your customer avatar have?
Kathryn Strachan, Managing Director & Owner of Copy House
Look at factors such as their career, lifestyle, hobbies, and interests that make them tick. You must also find out whether they’re the final decision-makers, and, if not, who is the final decision maker, and how much authority does your customer avatar have?
Creating content is always about the customer, right? That’s why understanding who they are, what they need, and building empathy should be part of your storytelling narrative.
Especially in B2B industries, we too often see content marketing strategies that elevate the business instead of the customer. A report found that 55% of successful content marketing professionals attributed personalization to enhanced conversion rates and growth.
That starts with understanding your customer, building empathy for their situation, and presenting a valuable story that matches their needs.
Here are a few ways to achieve this:
- Prioritize audience research. You might not think that a content marketer should directly engage in customer research, but it’s actually very insightful. How can you create compelling and relevant content without truly understanding your audience? You can’t. Perform audience research before you start planning your content ideas.
- Collect audience insights. You have multiple ways to get to know your customers. First, try ongoing, in-depth interviews and surveys. Second, design processes for regular communication between content marketing and customer-facing teams. Finally, explore user analytics, trending topics, industry resources, and keyword data.
- Define your buyer and audience personas. Remember that your readership might be broader than your direct buyers. This could include potential brand advocates, as well as users and influencers. When creating both types of personas, focus on describing the pain points and specifics of their buying behaviors and the way they might influence your ideal customer.
- Create quality content with intention and purpose. Use the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant to get instant feedback on the quality of your content based on targeted keywords, readability, tone of voice, engagement, and even optimal lengths for specific topics.
Before planning and creating any content piece, ask yourself: Who is it going to serve and why should they care?
Trend #4: Approach Content as a Revenue Driver
2022 will be the year we will start looking at our content as another channel. Content will be tied to the user intent and be more detailed. Hopefully, Google will also keep becoming smarter by analyzing pages that can bring the best content experience. This content includes informative videos, great visuals, comparison tables, and well-formatted content. With that advance, we can pay more attention to the user experience, and worry less about article length.
Liraz Postan, International SEO and Speaker, Founder of Liraz Postan LTD
According to our survey, 91% of companies achieved some degree of success with their content marketing in 2021.
Besides, 71% of the companies we surveyed that found success in content marketing increased their budgets for it in 2021, while 58% plan to increase the size of their content teams.
Not only are companies splashing out more money for their content marketing budgets, but they’re seeing it as a revenue driver worth investing in.
Still, only 66% of our respondents measure content marketing performance, with the key success metrics including organic traffic, rankings, and leads.
Content marketing might not be the easiest channel to measure and optimize. But it’s not impossible. Adding the end-to-end analytics to track the impact your content has on the bottom line is perhaps the most important step to take in 2022.
Much like the old adage “it takes money to make money,” here are some tips for staying on track with your resources and budgets in 2022:
- Start with building a content strategy. “Content marketing strategy” was the second most frequently searched content marketing-related keyword in 2021. Zooming out and looking at the overall picture will help you make your content efforts less chaotic and more effective. Start by analyzing the performance of your existing content and the impact of the organic traffic. Then, establish benchmarks and primary goals, such as the revenue generated by content marketing.
- Set and track KPIs. After establishing high-level goals, think about the specific metrics you’ll use to track the performance of each content type. Think on-page engagement, shares, organic traffic, conversions, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), closed opportunities, etc.
- Watch the data and consider multitouch attribution. Remember that not every piece of content should be geared to a conversion or a sale. Keep sight of other metrics like traffic, leads, and events on your website that indicate engagement on these levels. It might take dozens of steps for someone to convert through the stages of their journey, especially in B2B content marketing. So, adding an extended attribution window and a multitouch approach could be a good idea.
- Optimize and adjust. Not every piece of content you put out will be successful. And that’s OK—it’s a learning experience. Correlate your data with well-performing content, so you can pivot to what works best.
Trend #5: Focus on Your Click-Through Rates (CTRs) in Search
When you begin your journey into SEO, you usually think about rankings. That’s understandable. No rankings, no traffic. But the more you learn about search, the more you realize that rankings aren’t really the goal. The goal is a steady stream of qualified visitors. And that means clicks.
Andy Crestodina, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder, Orbit Media Studios, Inc.
When creating a content marketing strategy, remember that it’s impossible to measure success without defining the criteria. That’s why setting data benchmarks, including CTRs, should be a core component of your strategy or campaign.
At the end of the day, ranking well is important, but wouldn’t you rather be attracting more clicks and traffic on a positive trajectory?
Let’s say you published an article that claims a top position in the search engine results page (SERP) for a keyword you hold dear.
Sounds like a cause for celebration, no? While it may get a top seat in search, has it been getting fewer clicks?
Some tips for improving your CTR in 2022 include:
- Repurpose into other media. Google also displays results for video, images, news, and more. Consider how your existing content could be repurposed to win clicks for different SERP features. The same applies to blog posts and landing pages. Bonus tip: If you put video content on YouTube and then embed it on pages that are attracting visitors, you’re already winning!
- Create content around “big questions.” A snippet is great, but it won’t necessarily get you clicks. Instead, diversify your content around related questions that go deeper and offer more value to your target audience. For instance, if you win a snippet that answers “how many countries are in Europe,” you likely won’t get any clicks. Instead, provide content that offers richer information. “The history of European countries,” for example, can’t be answered in a single snippet and could merit a click instantly.
Trend #6: Create More Short-Form Video Content
Short-form videos are engaging and here to stay. If TikTok and Instagram have taught us anything recently, it’s that short-form videos didn’t die with Vine. They are here to stay and they're only getting more popular.
Adam Connell, Founder of Blogging Wizard and Startup Bonsai
41% of our survey respondents cited more video as a tactic that made their 2021 content strategy successful.
Furthermore, 35% of companies plan to make video a key part of their content strategy in 2022. The popularity of video —especially short form— has picked up considerably in the last few years. Instagram and Facebook stories, TikTok, Instagram Reels, and countless other platforms have emerged and offer a very specific benefit: delivering content to the viewer in an incredibly short space of time.
While professional video production may have a big price tag, it doesn’t always have to be costly. Try some of these content ideas in 2022 to add more video into your marketing mix:
- FAQs: If your brand gets a lot of these, making a video or a series of videos is a perfect opportunity to address them, plus it puts a face to your brand
- Video ads: If you work with influencers, partnering with them in a video ads strategy can be hugely successful both in gaining exposure as well as building trust
- Testimonials: Want to shine a spotlight on one of your customers? Invite them to share their feedback through stories or another video format
- Involve your subject matter experts (SMEs): Even if you are in B2B, you can quickly and easily create short-form videos. For example, instead of doing another webinar, ask your SMEs to record a few clips summarizing their ideas.
If video is going to be a part of your 2022 content marketing strategy, head over to our blog where we go deeper into how to optimize your videos for SEO.
Trend #7: Make Content Audits a Priority
If you talk to real content marketing innovators, they are looking for those simple 20% of things that will deliver an 80% upside. For us, we’re doing more content updating, pruning, and repurposing. Updating this content will become less of a side project and more of the main project for many content marketers. We have seen lost rankings come back, traffic return, and lead-driving results from updating quality pages and pruning (re-directing) some of our non-performing older content.
Nearly 75% of companies surveyed do a full content audit each year, and 65% of companies that succeed in content marketing run them at least twice per year, according to our report.
While running a content audit might not sound as fun as storyboarding your next creative campaign, it’s an essential practice that reaps huge rewards for content marketers.
By finding out what content performs best, you can make informed choices that require far less heavy lifting than creating a whole lot of new content that might not perform as well. It also gives you the chance to rediscover buried content that could be spruced up and revitalized for future gains.
Frequent Audits = Successful Metrics
When content marketing teams perform content audits more frequently, they get stronger results across the board.
What are the telltale signs that a piece of content needs an update? Our respondents cited the following reasons:
- 44%: because the content was outdated
- 29%: to prevent fluctuations in rankings for high-performing content
- 28%: to reinvigorate content when rankings and traffic are down
With 82% of our respondents engaging in some active form of content auditing, it’s clear that this strategy is working for them.
After updating their content, 45% of participants reported increased engagement and 43% said rankings and traffic increased, revealing a strong correlation between revamping content and improving key metrics.
So, aim for at least two content audits per year—data suggests that thrice or quarterly could be even better.
To learn more, visit our 5-step guide on content auditing on the Semrush blog.
Trend #8: Use Data and Automation to Scale and Streamline
Depending on what industry you’re in, chances are that thousands of articles published daily compete with your brand. This makes for a noisy digital environment where companies are vying for the top placements in the SERPs.
The silver lining is that it gives you an opportunity to create winning content and embrace data to inform your content marketing strategy.
Our research found “content marketing tools” was once again one of the most popular topics globally, indicating a strong need for more automation as content managers often handle labor-intensive processes.
But just as we discussed the importance of performing content audits, understanding the data behind high-performing content is essential.
Leveraging tools to identify opportunities, plan, execute, and automate your content production will be advantageous to content marketers looking for data-driven results in 2022.
With many content managers seeking to streamline their process, such tools as the Semrush Content Marketing Platform help improve and optimize your content strategy for SEO gains and enhance user engagement.
Bonus Tip #8.5: Access the Report for Content Strategy Trends in 2022
We compiled thousands of data points behind successful content marketing in 2021 and put together a comprehensive report that covers everything you need for success in 2022. Download the full State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report for the entirety of our research for additional trends and takeaways to drive a successful content strategy this year.
And as for marketers who are especially keen on getting into the data behind marketing tips and trends, we’ve summarized the biggest findings in numbers below.
Summary: 2022 Content Marketing Trends in Numbers
Check out some other important data points we put together from our global content marketing report focusing on key trends in Google search, trending topics, and top hashtags on Twitter.
Top 20 Google Search Queries Related to Content Marketing
We looked at the top 20 content marketing-related questions asked on Google and analyzed their average monthly search volume.
- More “why,” “what,” and “how” related queries surrounding content marketing are on the rise, suggesting more businesses are looking to break into this space.
- We are seeing increases in questions about content marketing examples, salaries, benefits, and even tools and platforms to facilitate content marketing activities. We’re also seeing fewer searches for content marketing services, suggesting more companies may be looking to bring content marketing in house.
Top 20 Questions About Content Marketing Asked on Google
We looked at the top 20 questions about content marketing asked on Google and analyzed their average monthly search volume.
- People are very curious about content marketing and want to know exactly what it is!
- Two new questions emerged that weren’t on our list before:
- “How to use content marketing to grow your business”: This question indicates more entrepreneurs and business owners are building interest.
- “How to generate leads with content marketing”: This question shows how content marketers and business owners are looking to generate leads, hit their targets, and get a return on investment for their efforts.
Top 20 Hashtags Used with #сontentmarketing
Examining 217,247 tweets relating to the topic of content marketing between January and December 2021, we looked at those featuring #contentmarketing in the most popular tweets (5+ retweets) to establish the top social media hashtag trends throughout the year.
- Content marketing, SEO, digital marketing, and social media all remain deeply interconnected. This suggests that more people are considering a multitouch approach using these channels in tandem.
- AI, growth hacking, analytics, and blogging are on the rise. New technologies and strategies that focus on business growth are becoming more prevalent in the content marketing discussion.
Since every brand is unique, your content marketing strategy should be founded on an understanding of the nuances of your industry and your ideal customers. We hope these insights, collected from thousands of sources around the globe, will help marketers reach new heights with their efforts this year! To learn more about content marketing in numbers, check out this list of 2022 content marketing statistics.